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Edmundson begins stint as Wilson president July 1

May 15, 2001

Edmundson begins stint as Wilson president July 1



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


The unique blend of people and philosophy at Wilson College attracted incoming president Lorna Duphiney Edmundson to the private women's school, she says.

"It was not any one thing - it was the sum total of everything," said Edmundson, who is preparing to step in as the college's 18th president July 1, following the retirement of Gwendolyn Evans Jensen.

Edmundson has worked in higher education for 30 years, most recently as president of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges.

"Almost my entire career has been spent working on behalf of providing equity and access to women," she said.

Her roles have included college president, chief academic officer, strategic planner, fund-raiser, consultant and teacher in public and private institutions in the United States, Japan and France.

She has held senior posts at American University in Paris, Columbia University, and Trinity and Colby-Sawyer colleges, among others.

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"The positions have all been positions where the institution is dedicated to women and girls," she said.

A colleague informed Edmundson of the opening at Wilson when the college began its search last fall.

That was the first Edmundson had heard of the college with an enrollment of about 340, but she said she quickly became captivated by Wilson's mission.

"Its hopes for the future and who it was in the past made a deep connection with me, beginning with the fact it's women-centered and has kept that legacy all these years," Edmundson said.

She said other facets, including the liberal arts program, its Presbyterian roots and the reputation of the people, were among the reasons she accepted the position.

"It's a rigorous liberal arts college, and one that offers professional programs to help women advance," she said.

The field of 29 candidates was whittled down to three in December, and in January the Board of Trustees selected Edmundson.

She said that while she has a few priorities in mind, she's not coming in with a list of projects.

"I think it is unwise to come in with a plan because no one alone can carry out a plan," she said. "The president must bring people together to create the environment to think strategically.

"You can't have a college of character and quality without commitment and understanding among people."

In the beginning, Edmundson said efforts will hinge on reavowing the college's heritage and mission.

"We will focus and build on the strengths," she said. "A new president is more about the institution than the person. It signals a time to reaffirm the mission and rededicate itself."

However, she has identified one project - expanding the college's enrollment at a global level.

"There are wonderful opportunities for Wilson to take advantage of," she said. "We can look at international recruitment, while keeping our commitment to local and regional students."

After months of easing into the community, Edmundson said she is ready for the final transition.

"I am very eager to get to know everyone and to get to meet the incredible Wilson women in the world," she said.

Edmundson and her husband, Dan, will be the first to live in the newly renovated Sharpe House on Philadelphia Avenue on the campus.

Both are outdoors enthusiasts and are excited by what the Cumberland Valley has to offer, she said.

Edmundson has two daughters, Laurel, 26, a medical student at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, and Katherine, 19, who just finished her sophomore year at Haverford College.

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